Scratch-and-win Timeshare scam

Timesharing is a scam in which you buy a share of a holiday accommodation, together with other unsuspicious tourists. In exchange for an annual installment (sometimes called membership fee), you will be the owner of this accommodation for a certain number of days or weeks every year, allowing you to spend your holiday there. However, the (shared) ownership means that you need to sign a purchase contract. And these contracts are infamous for their hidden extra costs, long term financial obligations and extremely high termination fees. Be aware that by signing such a contract, you will be locked into financial obligations for many years, sometimes decades, costing you many thousands, even if you decide not to spend your holiday at “your own” accommodation.

Also read: Warning! Timeshare scam in Kuta, Bali

Bali-scam-holiday-club-timeshareTimeshare is notorious for its aggressive and sales practices, false pretenses and extremely burdening contracts. These practices are spread worldwide, but have moved to Asia in recent years. In Bali, it is apparently still very successful with unsuspecting tourists, as there are many con artists working for these swindlers on the streets of Kuta, Sanur and other popular tourist destinations on the holiday island of Bali. And their trick is not to start about timesharing, but first let you play (and win) an innocent game of scratch-and-win.

When you’re walking on the beach, boulevard or shopping streets, you will be approached by either an Indonesian person or sometimes even a young European “student”, who speaks English or possibly your native language, offering a free scratch-and-win lottery ticket as a promotion for a hotel. Bali-scam-timeshare-scratch_and_winBecause the tickets are secretly marked, one of your group will always end up being the winner of the grand prize,  which can be anything from an iPad to a large cash sum, or a free holiday in a luxurious resort in Bali. Sometimes you won’t even be told what the grand prize is exactly until you come to their office. The grand prize can only be collected by visiting a sales promotion for a holiday resort. The scammers offer to take you to their office immediately or pick you up later at your hotel, so you can collect your prize. The winning scratch cards and the prizes are just to lure you into their sales office where another sales person will apply hard sales tactics to get you to sign a contract for an expensive timeshare club membership, which you won’t be able to cancel.

When you arrive at their office, they will tell you that before they give you your prize, you will first have to watch a promotional video. After this video, a sales person (these are often European or British) will tell you about a special promotion of their holiday club, Bali-rip_off-holiday-club-timesharepromising all kinds of wonderful holiday accommodations in the most picturesque locations. You will be informed that “only today” you can join their club for a certain amount of money, most likely a couple of thousand Euro’s, Dollars or Pounds. You will have to pay a deposit of at least one thousand Euro’s directly upon signing the contract, and you can pay off the rest in installments. They will forcibly encourage you to join that same day, as the “special promotion” offer will be valid for one day only. They may even act annoyed when you show some hesitation. Of course this should get your alarm bells ringing, as there is no reason for them not to give you some time to consider before investing such a large amount of money, except for it being a total scam.

If you refuse to sign any contracts or deposit any money, they may become aggressive and refuse to bring you back to your hotel, meaning you will have to find a taxi (and pay for it) by yourself. There is no “grand prize”, you may be reluctantly given a (used) T-shirt if you have the guts to ask for it, but once they realize they can’t scam out of your money, you’re on your own.

Bali-scam-scratch_and_win-timeshareHow do they make sure there’s always one winner of the grand prize in every group? They have two kinds of tickets: one type with smaller prizes like a T-shirt and one type with the grand prize. The tickets are marked, invisibly to an unsuspecting victim, but clear enough for the con-artist to make sure there’s only one grand prize per group, because more than one would be suspicious, and the grand prize is needed to lure the group or couple into joining him to visit the sales promotion. Because that’s what it’s all about: getting people into their office, where they can use their aggressive sales methods to get naïve tourists to sign multi-year timeshare contracts and scamming them out of thousands of Euro’s, Dollars or Pounds.

A variation to this scam goes as follows: a friendly young Balinese girl approaches you, claiming to be a student carrying out a tourism survey. She will first ask you all the usual questions about what country you are from and how long you’re staying in Bali. In the end, she will ask you in which hotel you are staying and your room number. If you do this, you will be called later that day or the next, by someone who claims you have won a prize by completing the survey, and they will send a driver to pick you up so you can claim your prize. And of course, the timeshare pitch starts from there. So never let anybody know which hotel you are staying, Bali-scam-timeshare-holiday-cluband especially not your name or room number. If someone you don’t know offers to pick you up from your hotel, ask them to pick you up at a shop or restaurant near your hotel, so you don’t have to reveal the exact location of  your stay.

Most of these representatives can be very persuasive and all of them are extremely annoying when you are trying to enjoy your holiday peacefully. If you want to avoid telling them at least ten times you’re not interested before they leave you alone, tell them you’re under 27 years old, as this is the minimum age they will invite to their presentations.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Bali Tourist Scams Forum.

Comments

  1. Paul Jones says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the information. How gullible are we tourists, to think that 24 hours after filling in a short survey on the street, I get a phone call in my hotel room from a random stranger (Lisa) telling me I had won the top prize of a 7 night holiday.
    I did not think I was entering into a competition. Alarm bell → 1.
    I would be picked up from the reception of my hotel, taken to another hotel, some distance away, by “their” driver. Alarm bell →2.
    And the BIG one. We would be given a free breakfast with drinks AFTER watching a 1 hour video presentation of this new hotel and when we were ready they would bring us back to the hotel. Alarm bell → 3.
    A light bulb came on in my head. This sounds way to good to be true. So, in this day of technology and the Internet it was time to check this out. There’s no surprise to see that it’s a timeshare scam. IT’S A SCAM…don’t do it. Don’t go. Don’t be fooled.

  2. Ha. Had basically this exact thing happen 35 minutes into our first jaunt around town. A guy who called himself ‘Roy’ gave us the tickets, and surprise surprise, my wife’s said she had won her choice of $500 US cash, an iPad, or a weeks free stay at a resort in any of 8 different countries. All we had to do was get in a taxi (right there and then) and go to a hotel to get our prize. (Incidentally, my card awarded me two shirts, but if I wanted to collect those I could just go on my own any time)
    What made ‘Roy’ so convincing was the sheer faux delight in his eyes when my wife opened her ticket. He explained this by saying he is excited because he also gets $100 USD if someone he gives a card to wins the jackpot. He grew strangely insistent when my wife and I posited other times or ways to visit the hotel and claim our prizes.

    The cards themselves are slathered around the edges with claims like ‘Absolutely no cost to you.’ And ‘No commitment required’, and I have never in my life heard someone utter phrases like ‘I am an honest guy. I wouldn’t bullshit you’ more than Roy, which of course just made me trust him less. I let him keep us in the leash a little longer because of a perverse enjoyment in seeing scammers work so hard to get nothing.

    This needs to be shared. Wish I could share a pic of the card. I saved mine as a souvenir.;)

  3. Gerard Murphy says:

    I find with the timeshare, the woman seem to win the amazing prizes and give the men crap.
    I usually don’t mind going along with them, particular if bored.
    When it comes time for them to use the strong pitch.
    You just tell them, it’s a lot of money i need to speak to my financial advisor first.
    That shuts them up

  4. Had this happen today.
    My Mum won the ‘grand prize’ and was a little skeptical when he said we had to go there straight away. But I convinced her let’s just go check it out. After all the family (6 of us) piled into the car, my girlfriend jumped onto her phone and typed in karma group (the name on the card) scam.
    Sure enough there it was. She quickly faked that she needed to vomit and the driver stopped the car and we all jumped out.
    My family was convinced as well haha
    Needless to say we scammed the scammers. I guess if its to good to be true it always is.

  5. I met that girl today in Bali at Pirates Bay !!! balinese girl ! She said exactly what’s written above!!!! I was not interested HOPEFULLY ! Thanks for sharing that experience guys !

  6. manches man says:

    The worst ones are the sales managers in the office.
    Man what a rude person. After 3 hours of questions the sales rep was getting no where with me. So he calls his manager. Pressure sales tactics, hard sell i was not going to buy. However the way he was calling his staff names because he couldnt close the sale. Made me think even more this dude is a first class wanker.
    Well its true on the post above i won the tee shirt and my wife won the grand prize, one of 3 prize. The gold panal indictacted she won 7 nights in one of there hotels. Il check to see if the voucher actually works

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